MyDoom: The Most Expensive Virus in History

Computer Virus Threat in AustraliaIf you’ve been a computer user since the early 2000s, you’ve probably heard of MyDoom. IT experts, along with proponents of managed IT services, contend that it is among the most dangerous computer viruses in history. It’s not as potent as the current most powerful one (Iran’s “Flame), but it sure did a huge amount of damage.

A Brief History

MyDoom invades e-mail boxes. It started appearing back in 2004 and quickly became known as the fastest-spreading virus on the web. Its creators masked MyDoom as a message delivery failure notification.

Users would then be curious, check the message, and unknowingly execute the attached file, which turns out to be a worm. This will be sent to all other contacts linked to the account. It also has the ability to search for e-mail addresses on its own. This is what caused massive slowdowns in web search performance since the virus puts a severe load on the servers.

Extent of the Damage

The speed of MyDoom’s transmission is what defines it. It’s able to infect an average of 1 in 12 emails on the web. It beat the previous speed record of 1 in 17 emails. According to Finnish antivirus company F-Secure, MyDoom was able  to do this by crafting authentic-looking emails that fooled almost anyone. Subjects like “server report,” “test,” or “status” were common.

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Eastern Europe bore the brunt of MyDoom’s potency. Latvia, Lithuania, Yugoslavia, and the Czech Republic are the most affected countries, with 20 to 22 percent of all their computers infected. And the amount of damage? An estimated $38 billion in U.S. dollars. Yes, you read it right.

How Did It Die?

MyDoom was programmed to stop on its own. Meaning, authorities weren’t really able to eradicate it on their own. Email filtering firm MessageLabs did a good job blocking it, however, stopping the virus for almost 44 million times in two weeks since it first appeared. A denial of service attack is embedded into MyDoom’s code and it finally ceased attacks on computers almost a month into its rampage.